51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
The best I found so far, 1 July 2003
All my life I have been curious about the world around me and what makes it tick. Evolution being one of the most important aspects of our learning about the nature, I've read a bit on the topic over the years. Now I am not a biologist, but I am a scientist and I can definitely tell when somebody is pulling things out of thin air just because they need to support a preconcieved picture. Most of the books I've read on the subject have been full of this (most notably Wright's The Moral Animal, whose author clearly lacks elementary scientific etics).
It is therefore with great pleasure that I can recommend Mr. Diamond's book as the first social evolution book that stood up to my requirements on intellectual honesty. Indeed, many of the claims from earlier books by social evolutionists, that I found rather wild and unsubstantiated, do not appear here and some are even refuted by Mr. Diamond as errors. As he did with his Guns, Germs and Steel, he pulls together strands from many branches of science to create a rich picture of human past, a picture which is reasonably well documented given how little we really do know and which fits together well. I found this book also better written and better ballanced than the Guns,..., which suffered from excessive political correctness that sometimes clouded the author's judgement. Here he almost avoided political correctness-related spins, and on the few occassions he did he made it clear that he does not take it too seriously, which just ties in with the overall honesty and precision of his exposition.
I enjoyed reading the book very much. It is very well written, often you even do not realize that you are learning new things and there are some genuinely funny places, too. I would recommend it as the first book to look at if you are interested in evolution of the human race.